Global fashion brands are knocking at India’s door to procure non-surgical facemasks that have become the order of the day in wake of Covid-19 crisis. International brands have begun sharing prototypes of fashion masks in cotton and blends with Indian suppliers who are awaiting a nod from the Centre to export non-surgical masks.

Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has approached the Centre seeking guidelines and clarification on export of non-surgical grade of masks, gloves, coveralls, gowns and other protective wear.

Tirupur Exporters’ Association (TEA) and Indian Texpreneurs Federation (ITF) too have made representations seeking clarification pertaining to non-surgical masks of cotton and various blends that may be supplied to international buyers.

The ITF that represents the textile value chain of Tamil Nadu has approached the ministry of textiles seeking removal of ban on export of fashion cloth masks. ITF said textile clusters of Coimbatore and Tirupur have received enquiries for supplying fashion masks to global brands and importers with an immediate need for at least 50 crore masks.

“This alone can generate business of ₹1,000 crore immediately and ₹4,000 crore over a period of one year,” said ITF convenor Prabhu Dhamodharan.

AEPC chairman A Sakthivel in his letter to the commerce ministry said exporters are unable to export any kind of mask, including those not mentioned in the notifications – like knitted masks or plain cotton woven masks, which are not for surgical purposes.

In his representation to textiles ministry, TEA president Raja M Shanmugham said while a March 19 notification pertaining to the export of surgical and disposable masks does not prohibit masks made out of knitted fabric, customs authorities are not permitting their exports.

“Fashion brands like Marc O’Polo, Camp David, Lerros, et al have approached me with enquiries pertaining to non-surgical face masks,” Shanmugam said.

Masks will not just be an accessory, it will become an essential component of a garment. Brands have begun discussing prototypes of how masks would go with particular garments, he told ET.

“To begin with, brands have been asking for masks in solid colours in cotton and in blends, but eventually, the masks will sync with the design of the garment,” Shanmugham said.